Flood: Doom looms nationwide ••
30million people will be displaced
High rise buildings in danger, say environmentalists
Victoria Island and Lekki-Ajah ‘high risk areas’
Food scarcity imminent- Farmers’ group
God is angry with us -clerics
In view of the recent 0.5 rise in sea water level which has led to massive flooding nationwide, experts have warned the nation to brace up for varied environmental disasters, building collapses along with food scarcity.
According to meteorologists, the flooding which has sacked many towns and villages and destroyed bridges across Nigeria, over 30 million people would be displaced in 30 states and 100 local government areas in the federation.
The Federal Government, through the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET), had predicated flooding caused by the monsoon winds which usually bring rain into the West African sub-region at this time of the year.
“The rains did not start early this year, thereby possibly causing long duration torrential downpour and causing unexpected urban/flash floods in areas with non-existing or inadequate drainage system in the country,” it said.
Recent flooding in the country appears to have caught both victims and governments at all levels off guard despite early forecasts, including prediction of flood and other extreme weather conditions, by the NIMET, Director-General, Prof. Sani Abubakar Mashi who warned that the coastal regions of the Niger Delta, including Lagos were at risk.
Also included in the risk assessment where the following states Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina, Kano, Kebbi, Kaduna, Plateau, Nasarawa, Taraba, Oyo, Ogun, Ondo, Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers.
And recent devastating flooding incidents in Ibadan, Suleja, Sokoto and especially Lagos have backed NIMET’s warning.
Concerned environmentalists, speaking exclusively with Sunday Telegraph fingered indiscriminate sand dredging, land reclamation, sales of land, building on pipelines and drainage systems as culprits.
Director General, Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), Adeniyi Karunwi, reeled out a number of issues that could have led to massive flooding of the entire Lekki area, the fastest real estate development region in the country, suggesting that actions should be taken quickly by the Lagos State
government to save the situation otherwise, worse disasters await the future of those living in that axis.
He said: “Non-implementation of the Lagos Master Plan and indiscriminate construction activities and building by individuals on water channels without appropriate monitoring are responsible for the massive flooding in the state.”
Another environmentalist and former President, Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP), Mr. Bunmi Ajayi, explained that the entire Victoria Island and Lekki-Ajah axis is just 60 centimetres above the sea level, pointing out that at the slightest rise in sea level, all the land around there will be submerged, describing the location as a risky area.
Equally, agricultural experts have warned that this year’s flooding would cause heavy damage to farmlands, damage standing agricultural crops and may also carry away the top soil making the land barren. This may lead to food scarcity and increase in prices of food produce in the country in the coming months.
Speaking exclusively with Sunday Telegraph, the National Women Leader, All Farmers’ Association of Nigeria and initiator LUGAVO (let us give Agriculture a voice), Hajji Halima Njobji said: “No agric, no deal.”
She said this flood will definitely affect the availability of food in the country and inadvertently cause food scarcity and high cost of food produce in the coming months.
“From my personal opinion, it will affect both the farmlands and individual lives. You will discover that houses are built on the sewage lines, waterways and drainages are blocked. These floods affect the farmlands disturbing the women from going to their farms to cultivate and tend to their crops and most of the crops have been flushed away by the floods.”
Also speaking to our correspondent, on flood affecting farm products, Coordinator, Agribusiness and Youth Empowerment, Community of Agricultural Stakeholders of Nigeria Sotonye Anga, said predictions that there will be more rains and flood in about 30 states of the country, will definitely affect food production.
The NiMet Director-General, Prof. Mashi, takes the case further, stating that the flood can lead to poor crops production and harvest in 2017 as more states are susceptible to flood as rainy season continued.
He attributed this to the fact that only few crops could tolerate excess amount of water and that some crops could be completely lost if they were submerged for long period since they survived on sunshine.
NiMet also predicted that there would be dry spell toward the end of the growing season when rainfall reduces. “Those crops that may be able to stand and survive flood may be caught up by the dry spell that will eventually occur and there may be serious damage to crop yields.
“During flooding, crops are forced to absorb water more than necessary and the implication is that many crops cannot survive and if they survive, the yield will be seriously affected.
“Cocoa, for instance, is rain forest crop; but unfortunately, it does not survive in the rain forest areas that receives higher amount of rainfall because of seasonal flooding. If you have serious case of flooding, it means the standing crops will be forced to accommodate water more than they can absorb which will affect the performance of the crops.
“Unlike the cereal crops that can be submerged, cocoa cannot be submerged completely, but because water in the root is high, the yield may be affected,’’ Mashi said.
Second Vice President, Nigerian Institute of Builders, Mr. Kunle Awobodu said the floods in Lagos are phenomenal and are antithetical to stability of buildings, adding that the force of the floods weakens the structures of buildings and can affect the foundations and structures of the buildings.
“The salty water corrodes reinforcements of rods, columns and blocks in the buildings. Paintings and furnishings are affected and stained as a result of which owners will end up repainting and remodelling their homes. On the flip side, when the walls are dampened by the flood water, it is not easy to obliterate the walls with new paint,” he said.
He added that the septic tanks also suffer some backflows that could create a hygienic nightmare in the building, even as the sewage system becomes dysfunctional.
“The values of such landed properties and buildings depreciate in situations like these. Both local and foreign investors may become scared which may lead to capital flight. Lekki, which has been the worse hit area is the economic hub of Lagos and whatever affects it could potentially affect the whole of Nigeria and West Africa at large.
“Due to the floods, work at many development sites were suspended which led to loss of jobs. The foundations most likely to be affected are buildings with shallow foundations. Invariably, the flood is not positive to fiscal development,” he concluded.
The Publicity Secretary of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Professor George Adewole, said he is aware of the flood situation and the possible effects it could have on high rise buildings. He said as a matter of fact, he had received a call last Thursday from Ikorodu, a suburb of Lagos, with reports of a collapsed building and he had subsequently taken the step of calling for a meeting of members of the NSE, to put their heads together to come up with a solution to ameliorate the possibility of more collapsed buildings in the aftermath of the flooding.
“This is where you see the efficacy of the organisation and we will put our heads together to make sure that we arrive at a solution to this problem,” he said.
Meanwhile, some clerics have attributed the flood in some parts of Nigeria to the anger of God, stating that God decided not to overlook the wickedness of men, corruption, impunity and spilling of the blood of innocent Nigerians which they say have gone on for long in the country.
“I had warned earlier during one of my prophesy sessions that the iniquity of men, shedding of innocent citizen’s blood and self-love more that welfare of many will attract God’s wrath,” said the General Overseer of Olive Mount of Praise and Prayer Ministry, Ijegun, Lagos, Prophet Collins Timothy.
“What we are witnessing now in form of this unprecedented flood, is the wrath of God unleashed on the land. Otherwise tell me how one can explain that kind of flood that claimed many lives in the hilly neighbourhood of Suleja, Niger State?” asked Prophet Collins.
Also, the Founder of Omnipotence Mission of God, Rev. Oloruntimilehin Daramola, said that righteousness exalts a nation while sin will always bring reproach.
“Our leaders are insensitive to the plight of the poor but they behave like they are gods to the point that they turn their eyes away from some who are causing havoc in the name of religion. Why won’t God be angry with the excesses of wicked people,” Oloruntimilehin asked.
But the Vice Chairman, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) in Kaduna State, Rev Danjuma Ego, explained that the flood experience in the country is like other natural disasters that occur in other parts of the world; and counselled that people should desist from blocking drainages or erecting structures on drainages in order not to worsen the situation.
In response to the flooding, the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo approved the sum of N1.6 billion as immediate intervention for the victims of flood in 16 states that have been ravaged by flood.
“The states are Ekiti, Osun, Akwa Ibom, Kebbi, Niger, Kwara, Ebonyi, Enugu, Abia, Oyo, Lagos, Plateau, Sokoto, Edo and Bayelsa.
“The money is going to be taken from the Federal Government Ecological Fund Account at the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Minister of Finance is to release the fund directly to NEMA, which is, National Emergency Management Agency,’’ he said
At least 11 people were killed and over 50 houses destroyed in the flood caused by the heavy rain in Suleja and Tafa Local Government areas of Niger State. One of the worst hit was a petty trader, Sa’adu Abubakar, who said he lost his two wives and six children in the flood that ravaged a community after a heavy downpour last Sunday.
Abubakar said the sad incident occurred while they were asleep, as he was only woken up by the sound of one of the walls of their building collapsing. Reports said Sa’adu neighbours were unable to assist because of the strong currents and they watched helplessly as his children and wives were swept away.
Sa’adu, who said he initially, had two of his children in his arms while the first wife had others, but the water current overpowered them, snatching the children from his clutches.
“I was lucky to have been pegged by a tree which helped me to escape death,” the distraught man said.
In Lagos, residents and visitors to Victoria Garden City (VGC) on the Lekki axis gasped for breath last week in a bid to manoeuvre through a long stretch of flood, which rendered passage through the main entrances of the highbrow estate a nightmare.
The premises of NICON Hotel VGC, owned by multimillionaire businessman, politician and publisher of National Mirror Newspaper, Jimoh Ibrahim, was also submerged by the flood. Also all roads leading to Ado, Oke-Ira, and Badore area of Ajah, were flooded and many residents were temporarily rendered homeless.
Many choice vehicles got stuck in the VGC flood which rose as high as three feet in the deepest part and two feet in the shallow portion. Many cars trapped in the flood were swallowed up-to door level, causing their engines to switch off.
Over 15 vehicles had their bonnets opened while auto mechanics exploited the opportunity to make brisk business. Basit, one of the mechanics, told our reporter that he had worked on four vehicles between hours of 7 am and 3 pm; and charged between N10, 000 to N15, 000 to repair each of them.
However, the nightmare for millions of Nigerians is not yet over as the rainy season will not be over for another few months, prompting the Minister of Water Resources Suleiman Adamu, to announce that 30 states and over 100 local government areas have been categorised as “high flood risk areas” which should expect more flooding.
On a positive note though, the latest flooding was still not as disastrous as the 2012 floods, which incidentally began in early July 2012, and killed 363 people and displaced over 2.1 million people as of November 5, 2012.
According to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), 30 of Nigeria’s 36 states were affected by the floods, which were termed as the worst in 40 years, and affected an estimated total of seven million people. The estimated damages and losses caused by the floods were worth N2.6 trillion.